I was only 19 when the call came and
thinking it only 9 months volunteered,
till the Bulawayo Chronical on New Year
said "National service up 12 months!"
Those corporals were going to toughen
up intake 129 even if it meant
learning a new name for
my mother and combat cap!
Oh yes! We did learn the difference
between a rifle and a gun, stripped a uzi
and had tear gas fired at us.
Like robots we were drilled every day,
learnt to shoot, throw a grenade and
forget your name by dusk.
Those lucky enough to escape
got into Signals or Engineers
or so I thought
till a full pack, radio and FN
made an obvious target!
The Gods smiled as a good pass mark
led to a Brigade posting and
3 months of radio ops including
keeping SAP bases awake!
While the Israelis had the Yom Kippur war,
op Hurricane started in the North East and
even Brigade signallers were needed in forward
We were soldiers first with a duty to our country,
whether we be the Rhodesian African Rifles, Rhodesian
Light Infantry, SAS, Scouts and Territorials.
Pride and a job to do were the order of the day,
not the colour of your skin.
With 500 woman and children abducted from
St Alberts Mission, a terrible phase started ..
.ending with the shooting down of two
civilian Viscount flights with SAM 7's.
.From all this chaos, blood and maiming was born
Zimbabwe with the moral high ground to right all
the wrongs visited upon it (or so some said!)
Now, we weep as thousands die weekly from AIDS,
corruption flourishes, farmers are killed and
sanctions are again a possibility
As we march in The Anzac Parade, with the Allies,
we remember those who fought .
in the conflicts with Australia but also
our last war as a Rhodesian nation.
For even in these distant lands many
have a part that still lives north of the Limpopo.
Some may still feel the restlessness as
their African soul seeks peace.
© Clive Cooke
27th August 2002